Stories about extremism

Lessons from a halaqa in the US: There is more to Islam than we ‘think’

A couple of months ago, I was invited to attend a halaqa (Arabic for group study) at a university in the US where I was a visiting medical student for my elective. The halaqa had been organised by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) of the university. I was curious to attend it for I had never been to one before. The concept seemed a bit unusual; it was not supposed to be like a dars, a lecture on any Islamic topic, but more of an open discussion. Moreover, the discussion was to be held under the supervision of a mentor who had the proper knowledge ...

Read Full Post

We do not deserve people like Aitzaz Hassan and Chaudhry Aslam

This blog post is perhaps more directed towards the voters and members of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), than to anyone else. It is written for those who do not see banned militant outfits as legitimate threats to Pakistan. This is for all those people who have been led by their leaders to believe that certain terrorists were previously die-hard patriots. For all those who fail to read between the lines and do not realise how their leaders have, on every occasion, very cleverly manipulated their statements and, in ...

Read Full Post

PTI walay, ‘kon log o tusi?’

After being beaten in the May 11, 2013 general elections in Punjab, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) came back to the heart of Lahore in their attempt to portray a ‘real opposition’. They carried out a protest rally on Mall Road against rising inflation in the country. Their action left curious political minds wondering why they chose Lahore. Why couldn’t they give a tough time to the government by raising their concerns within the walls of parliament? Or why couldn’t they stage a hunger strike in front of the Parliament? After all, inflation is a federal issue and can be addressed in a legal manner. So, why ...

Read Full Post

Going to school during Ziaul Haq’s time

I was born almost a year after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to an Air Force family. Hence, my entire schooling was done in schools run by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) during General Ziaul Haq’s regime. My first school was the PAF school in Sargodha and my English teacher resembled Shaista Zaid, the English news anchor on Pakistan Television (PTV), the only channel aired in the country at the time. Although most people remember General Zia’s regime as oppressive and restrictive, my memories of school years are somewhat different. I studied in a co-education school, where boys and girls ...

Read Full Post

Teaching Comparative Religion: Lahore Grammar School did the right thing

Is it really wrong for our children to learn about other religions? A branch of Lahore Grammar School (LGS-55 Main), has introduced a subject titled ‘Comparative Religion’, which aims to “educate about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism”. The course received considerable backlash, gaining mainstream attention following an episode of a talk show aired on ARY News, Khara Sach on September 16, 2013. In the episode, hosted by anchor Mubasher Luqman, the school was falsely accused of attempting to convert students to other religions, as well as ridding Islamiat from the curriculum following the sixth grade. Following this episode of Khara Sach, ...

Read Full Post

Rimsha Masih: Another victim we failed to protect

Eight months ago, Rimsha Masih innocently told reporters: “I love Pakistan. I won’t ever leave my country.” Little did she know that after being accused of a crime she did not commit, under laws that were inherently in favour of her accuser, she will be forced to flee the country she held dear, despite how little it offered to non-Muslims like her. Today, Rimsha and her family have been forced to seek asylum in Canada. Rimsha was accused of burning pages of the Holy Quran by her neighbour, Khalid Jadoon in August 2012. She was detained in a maximum security prison for several ...

Read Full Post

If PTI is with JI, the Kaptaan will not get my vote

The biggest problem in Pakistan is not corruption; it is the growth of an intolerant and violent mindset. My expectations from my leader might not be much, but I do expect him to identify the biggest problem faced by Pakistan. Unfortunately Imran Khan is not my leader, yet. The recent electoral alliance between PTI and JI has raised many questions in the eyes of masses as to what the ideology of PTI really is. Granted it is a new party, but it needs to be extremely clear about where they stand on religious extremism. By forming an alliance with JI, the PTI will lose ...

Read Full Post

Are you a Pakistani extremist?

Hi everyone, it’s been ages! I was recently looking through my old blog posts and reminiscing about all the fun that was had with my quizzes for Pakistanis: What kind of Pakistani life do you lead? And: The desi-elite political identity quiz Given how 2013 has kicked off with more terrorism and extremism-related incidents than any year I can remember in my short lifespan, I think now would be the right time to find out how infected we each are with the ‘extremism’ virus on a personal level. Take the quiz below! Q1: The Christian neighbourhood next to you has been burnt down to the ground ...

Read Full Post

The suicide bomber

Butterflies. I like butterflies. What attracts me about butterflies is the vibrancy in which they express themselves, being the centre of attention, as they make their way through the fields. I doubt that there has ever lived a person who has despised butterflies. So harmlessly, they decorate our world; like the stars in the night sky, butterflies lighten up the air we breathe in. It’s sad that I have not seen a real butterfly yet. But I’m sure that one day I will. For the time being, I am happy looking at pictures of them in a book that my ...

Read Full Post

Say yes to Valentine’s day

There is no better indicator to how little Pakistan has done to prevent the nation slipping down the extremism rabbit hole than the increasingly visible outcry against Valentine’s day. Back in the 90s, nobody was concerned with the celebration of Valentine’s day. The general population was unaware of the event, and the few who knew went their merry way with chocolates, cut-out hearts, red balloons and the hope of securing a date or making a loved one feel special. The 2000s have, however seen each Valentine’s day turn increasingly into an ideological battleground between the forces of extremism out to score ...

Read Full Post